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Attorney general petitions Illinois Supreme Court to order judge to correct sentence in sexual assault conviction

An Adams County judge's decision to reverse his ruling on a sexual assault case has ignited a...
An Adams County judge's decision to reverse his ruling on a sexual assault case has ignited a firestorm of controversy, and has victim advocates outraged.(WGEM)
Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 4:25 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a petition Thursday for a writ of mandamus urging the Illinois Supreme Court to order Judge Robert K. Adrian to “impose a lawful sentence” in an Adams County sexual assault case that has attracted national attention.

Raoul reported he filed the mandamus complaint and a motion for supervisory order asking the court to direct Adrian to sentence Drew S. Clinton, 18, in accordance with state law.

Adrian found Clinton guilty of felony criminal sexual assault following a bench trial in October 2021. On a sentencing hearing Jan. 3, Adrian vacated Clinton’s conviction, which resulted in Clinton being released from the county jail.

“The mandatory sentencing range set by the Illinois General Assembly for felony criminal sexual assault is four to 15 years in prison,” Raoul said. “In addition to the insensitivity to the victim in this case, the judge’s decision to vacate the conviction and call the 148 days Clinton served in county jail ‘plenty of punishment,’ demonstrates an abuse of power. I appreciate our collaboration with the Adams County state’s attorney and the Illinois office of the state’s attorney appellate prosecutor. I am urging the Illinois Supreme Court to direct the judge to sentence the defendant in accordance with state law.”

Clinton was charged with three counts of criminal sexual assault for assaulting a 16-year-old girls after a graduation party in Quincy. The victim was unable to give consent when she was assaulted by Clinton. Adrian found Clinton guilty of one count of criminal sexual assault, a felony, after a bench trial that included testimony from the victim and other witnesses.

At the sentencing hearing, Adrian stated his intention to not sentence Clinton to prison, as mandated by Illinois’ mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, saying the almost five months Clinton had already served in the county jail was “plenty of punishment.” Instead, Adrian vacated the conviction and released Clinton from custody.

Raoul’s mandamus complaint urges the court to order Adrian to reinstate the verdict and issue a sentence consistent with the mandatory sentencing range set in statute.

“Victims of sexual assault often make the decision to not come forward because they believe that the criminal justice system will not believe them nor protect them‚” Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha said.. “The victim in this case took the brave steps of reporting the crime, cooperating with the investigation and testifying at trial. Because of her courage, the defendant was convicted of his crime. There is nothing more frustrating and disheartening to our community, this victim, and to all victims of sexual assault when any defendant avoids the legal consequences of his conduct. We appreciate the hard work of the Attorney General and the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office in ensuring that this brave young woman have the opportunity to hold her attacker responsible.”

Raoul’s office reported in the complaint the attorney general points out criminal sexual assault is a Class 1 felony with a statutory sentence range of four to 15 years in prison. Raoul argues Adrian exceeded his authority when he concluded – in defiance of the General Assembly’s intent – that 148 days in county jail was a “just sentence” due to Clinton’s age and lack of criminal record.

Raoul argues that by refusing to enforce a valid criminal statute, Adrian “acted as a quasi-legislator and usurped the authority of the legislative branch while undermining confidence in the judicial process.”

Raoul further argues that Adrian’s comments at the sentencing hearing demonstrate his own recognition that he lacked the authority to depart from the mandatory minimum sentencing range.

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